Sfax is the second city of Tunisia. It is an important industrial city due to the processing of phosphates. Sfax is situated on the coast, in the Gulf of Gabes.
The city was founded in AD 849 on the ruins of Taparura and Thaenae. Like other parts of Tunisia, Sfax has a long history, in which Sicily, Spain, the piracy, Venice and France have been involved.
SO WHAT SFAX ACTUALLY IS, OR AN OFFICIAL VIEW
Sfax, major port town, east-central Tunisia on the northern shore of the Gulf of Gabes. Built on the site of two small settlements of antiquity, Taparura and Thaenae, the town grew as an early Islamic trading centre for nomads. Temporarily occupied in the 12th century by Sicilian Normans and in the 16th century by the Spanish, it later served as a stronghold of the Barbary pirates. The town was bombarded by the French in 1881 prior to their occupation of Tunisia and in World War II, when it was used as an Axis base until captured by the British in 1943. Construction of the modern port was begun in 1895.
Now a transportation hub and a market for the phosphates of the Gafsa region, with which it is connected by rail, Sfax is Tunisia's second largest city, main outlet for the country's central and southern regions, and a major fishing port with fish canneries. Exports besides phosphates include olive oil, esparto grass, and sponges. The old Arab quarter (medina), with its 10th-century mosque and Casbah (citadel), is surrounded by the original ramparts built in the 9th century. The town is surrounded by an important esparto-, vegetable-, and olive-growing region. In the hinterland there are oil fields and oil pipelines. Pop. (1984) 231,911. This description comes from Britannica 2003